As you complete your high school education, one of the focal points is the final exams. It’s a trying and stressful time for parents and students. Ultimately, once you complete your exams, you will get an ATAR score that determines your choice after school and could also determine your future.
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But what is the ATAR score, and how is it calculated. Understanding ATAR could help you take your final years of high school more seriously and identify areas of improvement.
What is the ATAR?
The Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is the number that determines a student’s entry into university. ATAR ranks the Year 12 results and measures the overall academic achievement of the student compared to other final year students in the rest of the country (other than Queensland).
It’s important to note that ATAR is not a score out of 100. Instead, it’s a rank. It allows tertiary institutions to compare the overall achievements of all the students that have completed Year 12.
Depending on your location, the ATAR might be calculated differently. In Victoria, the ATAR ranking is calculated by the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) when you complete the Victorian Certificate of Education.
VTAC uses the VCE results issued by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) to calculate the ATAR scores. A student must have completed at least four VCE studies in a recognised combination to calculate their ATAR. Once you complete VCE, the authority will notify you of your ATAR. VTAC also forwards the ranking to tertiary institutions where you apply to determine your eligibility for the courses, among other requirements.
How is ATAR Calculated?
There are several steps and components involved in the calculation of ATAR ranking. It might sound complex, but it’s simple if you take the time to try and understand the system.
Each subject has four marks attributed to it, distributed as follows:
- Examination mark
- HSC mark
- Assessment mark
- Performance band
The first consideration that could affect your ATAR is your school’s rank. The rank of the school is what informs their assessment mark instead of the numerical result. The results of the student have to be moderated according to the performance of the rest of the students and their performance.
The High School Certificate mark represents the student’s results on their examinations. It is put into bands according to the results. A student with a mark of 95 is in band six, which includes marks between 90-100. The HSC mark is the average of the student’s assessment mark and their examination mark.
Students can choose from over 80 subjects in HSC. The subjects are not always comparable. Therefore, the rank of each subject is determined by how many students take it and the average examination results.
The scaling for each subject is determined using various combinations to produce scaling factors which are then applied to HSC marks to create scaled marks per unit.
The ATAR ranking is calculated from the sum of the scaled marks for an individual’s top ten scoring units. Each unit is worth 50 points, with a total value of 500 points for all the units. Your total mark is referred to as the aggregate, and it is what determines an ATAR.
ATAR represents the percentage of the population that you outperformed. It ranges from 0-99.95 in intervals of 0.05. if you receive an ATAR of 60, it means you performed better than 60% of the students that year.